by Rachel Blevins
Texting, Facebook messaging and e-mails offer connections, but what's missing?
Silent pauses, physical touch, personal fragrances, voice inflection, eyes sparkling with excitement, body language that speaks of joy or rage are lost in the technical translation. There is something so important about face-to-face encounters in developing a trusting relationship.
Call me old-fashioned, but I like eye contact. Ask any of my sons about the most frequently heard phrase growing up and he will say: “Look me in the eye when I'm talking to you!”
I held a job that required me to meet with families and individuals “cold turkey”. Sometimes I had a bit of personal information, but the goal was to get them to open up and talk to me about their grief and losses. Establishing trust in one visit is formidable but possible, a challenge I faced often.
On a beautiful late summer day, I had what I now refer to as a “tomato trust” afternoon. The visit began quietly...Annie didn't take to strangers very well. She had some mental health issues and talking with outsiders was challenging, but she agreed to this visit.
We sat on the front porch in full view of ripening tomatoes on the ledge. Late summer flowers bloomed and the fields of corn across the road indicated harvest time was near. Annie wore a sleeveless summer dress, almost too cool for the temperature that day. Our conversation was sparse and I chose to wait in silence as she thought out what she was willing to share.
She avoided eye contact but shared some juicy family gossip and then silence. She asked if I had a family. I briefly told her about my devoted husband and three sons. Long pauses continued... She looked down at her unshaven legs and said, “I hate shaving my legs!” Amen to that, sister! Just like razor to stubble, we shared a brief connection—woman to woman.
Our conversation ended quietly and her body language signaled no hugs. I thanked her for sharing the afternoon with me as I stepped off the porch. Almost like an afterthought, she asked, “Would you like a tomato for your dinner?” Annie knew I had a family, yet she offered only one.
It was a simple thank you. Thanks for not prying. Thanks for being someone I could trust with family gossip and my disdain for shaving legs. She offered one tomato in exchange for my trust. I have never forgotten the sweetness of that afternoon.
How long has it been since you shared a succulent, satisfying “tomato trust” kind of day?
Rachel is a freelance speaker/writer and personal caregiver. She is a Woman of Virtue!!